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Pastor's Letter

Pastor's Advent Letter - December 2023

We are at the beginning of Advent, the gateway to Christmas. Christmas holds its place in the affections and traditions as the great festival. Nearly 160 countries get an official day off on Christmas.

As a young child growing up in India Christmas day was special to me. We used to have a massive family gathering during Christmas. And I really mean it when I say ‘Massive.’ My great-grandfather had 9 kids, and I will let you do the Maths here to count how many of us gathered during Christmas! It was chaotic but it brought us all together once a year. Christmas is the Festival of Love, bringing us together as one happy family. It sings to us of many things - of family gatherings, of Christmas cards and feastings, of carols of peace and goodwill, of gifts given and received.

We believe its deepest meaning is to be found in giving. It is the Festival of Love which manifests its meaning in gifts. Alice Meynell has expressed this tenderly in her poem. "Unto us a Son is given".

Given, not lent,

And not withdrawn, once sent,

This Infant of mankind, this One

Is still a little welcome Son.

Jesus does not lend—He gives Himself freely, without reserve or regrets. We keep the Feast when with grateful hearts we cry: "Thanks be to God for the unspeakable gift". Christmas teaches us that Love gives all, for it gives itself. Jesus' gift was not a thing, it was Himself. To see the Baby in the Manger is to see the story of His whole life. He comes Himself: He gives Himself.

Unlike ours, His gifts are not just an expression, they are a part of Himself. So, He says, I leave with you. "My peace I give unto you". He gives Himself to the uttermost and He gives Himself to each. So, from beginning to the end, at the Manger, in His Ministry and on the Cross, we learn the truth of the words, "He loved me and gave Himself for me". It is all so tenderly personal. Christmas and all the Divine gifts are for all because they are for each.

This surely is the most glorious meaning of the festival that Christ gave Himself to us, that He is the Gift, the most appealing Gift, for He came in all the wondrous beauty of the Child-Given, not lent. The story of Christmas is set to the music of the giving of God's eternal Love manifested in the Gift of the Christ-Child, Jesus. In the midst of commercialised Christmas, let us take every opportunity to share with others about the eternal gift they can receive through Jesus Christ this Christmas.

I wish you and your family a Christ-centred Christmas and a Blessed New Year 2024.

Christvin Edbarg,

Student Minister and Lay Pastor

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